Housewife superstar Instead of leaving half a lemon in the fridge to dry up, use it to clean and remove rust - what's more, it's eco-friendly.
Rub on the lemon with its zesty appeal
In my last two columns I talked about using natural ingredients as household cleansers - first, vinegar, then bicarbonate of soda. This week, it's lemon juice. Lemon juice is excellent for cutting through grease, hence its inclusion in many washing-up liquids and detergents. It has excellent bleaching abilities, it makes the house smell fresh and is entirely harmless.
It is actually quite a strong acid. With a pH value of 2.3, it is stronger than vinegar. You can substitute it for vinegar in any household cleaning task, but the cost - even here, where lemons are cheap and plentiful - is prohibitive. Instead, use it for smaller jobs, or to use up fruit that has been cut open for cooking. One job at which lemon juice excels is in the removal of rust. To remove rust marks from fabric, saturate the stain with lemon juice and leave it for 20 minutes. Rinse, then wash as usual.
For rust marks on vinyl floors, rub half a lemon into the stain until it has disappeared, then rinse with clean water and dry. If a screw has rusted, place a squeezed-out lemon half on it, making sure the flesh is in contact with the metal. Leave overnight. The next day, enough rust should have gone to enable you to get purchase with the screwdriver. (Alternatively, soak a paper towel in lemon juice and cover the rusty screw.)
To brighten dull aluminium pans, fill the pan with water, add 8tbsp lemon juice and boil for 10 minutes. Tip out the water, wash the pan and dry. Clean copper saucepans by sprinkling half a lemon with salt. Rub over the metal until the surface brightens. It must be admitted this is a slow old process. You have to keep dipping the lemon in the salt and you may need to use more than one lemon, but it does eventually produce a soft shine.
Light marks on stainless steel knife blades can be removed by rubbing with half a lemon until the marks disappear. Or make a paste of lemon juice and salt and work into the blade. Both lemon juice and salt can corrode stainless steel if left in contact with the metal for a long time, but for this job the lemon and/or salt will be touching the blade for only a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth.
The Housewife's Handbook by Rachel Simhon (Bloomsbury) is available on www.amazon.com